First of Many Pressures

So it begins, sales Felipe Quispe aka El Mallku cannot contain his disdain for the new President. Ninety days to implement the changes he says or his Pachakuti movement will have to carry out a more “offensive attitude”.

Quispe also criticized all 16 members of the new cabinet calling them members of the “old political guard” and some new ministers have been “denounced by international organizations.”

Salary Cuts

Austerity measures are not always well-received. Sometimes it means a cut in social spending for health and education. But this recent austerity measure in Bolivia allows for additional positions for teachers and health workers.

Friday, President Evo Morales cut his salary by 57% to about $1,875/mo., from an amount of $4,362/mo. The ministers, vice-minister and directors will also be asked to take a pay cut, since according to Bolivian law no public servant in the executive branch can make more than the President. The money saved, roughly $27 million Bolivianos (roughly 3.4 million USD), will be used to create more items (positions) in education and health fields.

Naturally on the street, many are pleased by this first gesture by the government, where it appeared that the relative salaries earned by government officials were too high. The President of Bolivia used to earn almost $4,500 USD per month, while the minimum wage in Bolivia is about $56 USD per month. Big difference. The government hopes the Executive and Judicial Branches follow suit.

Not everyone is applauding this move. New Santa Cruz Prefect was quick to denounce the act.

Ruben Costas, governor of Santa Cruz in the country’s eastern business hub, called the cuts “demagoguery,” saying good leadership and social programs matter more than the president’s paycheck.

Question the move by saying that it is easier for the President because he has a free house, free transportation and other daily necessities, while others in Congress have to split their time between La Paz and their home regions. Some have said that lower salaries may cause more temptation to skim some public funds. But don’t criticize it as some kind of populist move for creating more jobs for the benefit of the poor.

Evo Style Sweater for Sale

I really wanted to let the subject of the evo sweater fade, but I couldn’t resist. Now anyone in the world can own their very own “Evo Alpaca Sweater”.

The website BoliviaMall.com has this and other items for sale.

Beautiful white, red and blue striped sweater, similar to the one that the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, wore during his meetings with foreign leaders. Knitted in 100% Alpaca wool and dyed with natural colors. Warm and comfortable.

The sweater is only 49.00 USD.

If sweaters aren’t your thing, you can buy a complete caporales suit for nearly 500 bucks.

Wasting No Time

At least they waited until Monday..(bold = my emphasis)

John Danilovich, cialis head of the US Millennium Challenge Corporation, see which selects countries for development assistance, warned Mr Morales on Monday that Bolivia could risk losing its eligibility for large-scale US assistance if the new president went ahead with “radical” economic policies, Guy Dinmore reports from Washington.

Speaking at the rightwing American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Mr Danilovich said it was not clear how Mr Morales would proceed once he faced “economic reality”.

Sometimes I Just Love Indymedia

I really enjoyed this comment:

EVO NO SERA UN ENCUBIERTO DE LA CIA?
PEPE SANCHEZ 23/01/2006 20:17

LOS PERSONAJES QUE PUSO PARA MINISTROS REALMENTE SON TENEBROSOS,¿QUIEN ES EVO REALMENTE?
¿PORQUE LOS YANQUIS NUNCA LO TOCARON,Y SIN EMBARGO A MARCELO Q.STA CRUZ LO ASESINARON?
AQUI HAY FELINO ENJAULADO….

Some are pretty perplexed by the choices for the cabinet, saying that most are unqualified and that they do not have experience in government. I thought that was some of the point, to get people who aren’t career public “servants”. The Bolivia government website will have the resumes of all of the cabinet members soon. Let’s wait to see what exactly are their qualifications before dismissing them as total novices. But in the meantime, I really hope ol’ Pepe Sanchez was just playing around.
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